It’s great to be back at Toka Leya as there have been some changes since our last visit. The first change is in the main area that has been totally refurbished with exciting new colours, covers, cushions and chairs. The colour is a sort-of pistachio – a light green that blends in perfectly with the surrounds, but is bold enough to be noticed. At night the whole main area comes to life in the flickering light of candles and quartz crystal chandeliers in soft gentle tones that are warm and inviting.
Secondly, there is a new character in camp. His name is Moto Moto and he is a hippo! The first time we spotted him was when we arrived at lunchtime and were seated on the deck overlooking the rushing and mighty Zambezi, enjoying a delicious mezze platter skillfully prepared by chef Stanley. Moto Moto seemed to just materialise quietly from between the boats parked on the pristine white sands of the beach. The sun perfectly spotlights the patch of bleached sand in front of the fire pit and he waddled over to a nice cozy spot where he settled down to soak up some warm rays. Ever vigilant, his ears twitched and flicked in response to the noises of lodge life.
Sometimes he would close his eyes and appear to be sleeping soundly, but the telltale signs of his twitching ears meant that he was just snoozing lightly. He looked so amazingly cuddly that one would be forgiven for thinking that he was as friendly as any lodge guest – but the reality is that his is one of the most dangerous species in Africa and keeping a wide berth is definitely advised!
Moto Moto means the “fiery one” and as such, endorses the point of keeping a comfortable distance from him. He is a young male that found himself in a fight that he lost, resulting in his now wandering on his own. He is using the safety of the lodge area to grow up and gain some courage to go and face the hippo world again. Apparently, he has made some attempts to force his way back in, but his confidence is not quite ready yet so for the time being, he is just going to dominate the area around Toka Leya.
We found him again that evening on our way back to our room after dinner. The walkway dips down to ground level to allow the natural animal paths to be undisturbed. In the dip we noticed him munching away on his nocturnal feast of whatever he could find underneath the parched dry bush. We left him in peace under the waning moonlight and made our way to our room.